Did you know it is National Influenza Vaccination Week? It’s a great time to make sure you and your family are protected from the flu this season. Flu numbers are on the rise, and sadly five pediatric deaths have already been reported this year.
All infants and children six months and older are able to receive the influenza vaccine. The very first year a child receives the flu vaccine, they will need a second dose, or “booster shot,” four weeks after the first one. This has been shown to give the best levels of protective immunity. If your child is over two years old, they may be eligible for the nasal spray FluMist instead of the injection.
If you’ve been watching the news, you may have heard that the flu vaccine is “less effective” this year. What does this really mean? In short, it means that the flu virus is unpredictable, and despite our best efforts to guess what strain will be going around in any given winter season, there is always the possibility that the specific flu strain will change. The CDC has stated that about 50% of the flu cases being seen so far this winter are not covered by this year’s flu vaccine. The good news is, the other 50% are! It’s also important to keep in mind that in the past, 90% of pediatric flu deaths occurred in unvaccinated children.
The importance of vaccinating to protect against the flu virus cannot be overstated. And it is absolutely not too late to vaccinate! The majority of flu cases usually occur in January, February, and March.
Call our office at 312-202-0300 to find out more about flu vaccination or to schedule a “flu shot” visit today! For more information online, check out The Flu Page at healthychildren.org, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Happy holidays and be well this season!
-Dr. Zeba Hasan